The U.S. Now Exporting Gas As Americans Aren't Using Enough Of It



With the high price of gas these days, Americans have cut back on their consumption. In fact U.S. demand for gas has dropped to its lowest levels in 10 years. So where does all that left over gas go? One would think that maybe with a surplus of gas all that excess fuel would go into refineries for later use to, maybe you know, keep gas prices reasonable. Nope, no way – that surplus of gasoline is being exported in record numbers to places like Brazil, Mexico, and Chile.

The U.S. has exported 430,000 more barrels of gasoline a day than it imported in the month of September. Experts and industry insiders say the trend is here to stay, and that exporting diesel and other refined products from the United States is now becoming much more common.

The U.S. began exporting its gasoline in late 2008; at the same time the American economy was crumbling, home foreclosures were on the rise, and so was the price of gas at the pump. Before 2008, the U.S. consumed all of the gas it produced plus the gas it imported.

So why the decline is American gas consumption? Well, the high price of fuel is defiantly a major factor, as is the recession, but also modern car are simply more fuel efficient.  People are buying electric vehicles, hybrids, or fuel efficient sub compacts. This is a good thing; America needs to move onto being a more fuel conscious society. However instead of exporting the excess gas, it could be put into reserves or used to alleviate the current price of fuel is being sold. Instead it is shipped out for higher profits.

In an interview with CNN, Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service said;

“I can understand it, from a truck driver’s perspective. You’re paying $4 or $4.50 a gallon to run your rig, yet we’re exporting the crap out of this fuel. I’d be outraged too.”

Will this exportation of American gasoline be enough to give the U.S. economy a boost in a positive direction? Probably not, as it is important to keep in mind that American gasoline exportation has been going on since late 2008 and the reality is that things are not that much better now than they were back then.

Source:  CNN | Image: Christian Lagerek via Shutterstock

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison


About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison
  • Tim Cleland

    1) You can’t have it both ways. If you want people to use less gasoline (I assume that is the goal
    of, the price has to stay up. The surest way to send the public back to buying SUVs is
    to reduce the price of gas back to $2 per gallon (not that the amounts we’re talking about is enough to do that, but the point stands).

    2) No one owes consumers cheap gasoline. If we consumers want to lower our gasoline expenses, then it’s up to us to use less of it.

    3) Exports are good for the country. People are being employed by making those extra
    430K barrels/day. We may as well let other countries pay their wages.

    • exactly! but what I want to know is, are we importing less oil too? or are we still importing as much, and just raking it in (well, the oil companies at least) in the refining business?

  • DaveD

    I think you’re confusing terms here. We export more REFINED gasoline…which is dfferent than *OIL* we drilled here in the US. The way the article is written implies that we are not using all the oil we drill here in the US and that is very misleading.

    We are a huge refiner of oil and many countries ship their oil here to be refined and we ship it back. This is nothing new and just reflects the fact that we’re still refining as much gasoline as ever and not using quite as much right now.

  • We import the oil, refine it into fuel, and any extra we export. If we exported our own oil refined into gas it would be a story. But we don’t do that.


  • jon

    I really wish these morons would actually act like reporters, America has ALWAYS been an exporter of fuel—-europe and south america doesn’t have the refineries to handle heavy crude—we do. so for many many years we been importing crude—refining it and then exporting it—all true—check the facts.
    I’ve noticed many times this web site spreading this obama backed bull shit instead of checking for real facts—please try to be honest in the future instead of biased

    • I think you’d be surprised at how many libertarians and conservatives there are on this site (though, I should specify that we probably have more in common with the Goldwater conservatives than mental defectives like circa-2011 Newt, Rick Perry, etc.). That said, while you are correct that the US has been an exporter of fuel for decades, most people – the man on the street, if you will – doesn’t know that. We’re telling them.

    • @ jon

      You’re right, America HAS always exported FUEL…but NOT gasoline. For the longest time, America used every drop of gas it could make, but in recent years our exports of GASOLINE have risen steadily.

      The facts you speak of are readily available online, such as right here.

      If you take a look at the chart, you’ll see that in the last decade American exports of gas have climbed higher than at any time since the end of World War II. Hence, why this is news.

      • jcmarching

        In California, we are informed by refiners that our gasoline is the most expensive of almost all states because of limited refining capacity pushing up demand locally. ergo, b.s.

        • T Adkins

          In California there is something the state mandates is added to the gas that no other state adds and we pay to have it added. We also refine gas in Oakland that is then trucked into Arizona where they still sell it for less than in California. So we get to be special in CA. I am not fully sure of this next thing but we supposedly also pay to have something removed from our gas and that something might also be what we paid to have added.


        • plus the BS they sold (most of) us in 2006 when we voted against taxing (or increasing taxation) on drilling in CA. It didn’t pass, and hey, guess what? the price of oil increased dramatically anyway, and now the state’s broke. And taking it out on us through the damn CHP. Grrrr. People who believe TV ads shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

  • Marc P.

    This article asks:
    “So why the decline is American gas consumption? Well, the high price of fuel is defiantly a major factor, but also modern car are simply more fuel efficient.”

    Ah… I don’t know… how about the fact that the economy ain’t doin’ too good ???
    Ya think that could be a factor ???

    • @ Marc P

      The original piece mentioned the recession…I went a little overboard with the editing pen this time.

      My bad.

      • Marc P.

        Actually, I think it is THE factor that surpasses all others combined and then some…, and not just in the U.S. but globally as well. In 2008, prices were going through the roof, but demand was high. The global recession brought demand and prices down and most likely bought us a few years on the peak oil thing…

        But just you wait… if the economy goes into overdrive again…, prices are going to shoot through the roof again and, as peek oil inevitably approaches, no recession or depression is going to be deep enough to compensate for the scarcity of the thing.

  • DaveD

    I’m one of those people who is just right of center that Jo is talking about. I’m not sure why talking about green things has to necessarily be some kind of “obama backed bull shit”. I guess I’m old enough to remember when conservatives thought it was stupid to waste things as well.
    I never have figured out how Republican became the definition of someone who was greedy and wasted shit just to show we could. It’s why I don’t vote Republican anymore. Tired of watching brain damaged morons like Perry, Newt and Bachmann brag about how stupid, ignorant and bigoted they can be. A real turn off.

    • Well said, D. I believe in a strong, secure country – and if “green” tech will help achieve that goal, make America’s military faster and more agile, keep Americans healthier, and allow me to have a country worth handing on to my kids, then that’s awesome. Maybe if we called it “Red White and Blue” tech or “Jesus” tech people like Jon wouldn’t be so f***tarded and reactionary about it.

  • T Adkins

    ok.. SO CA has a different gas blend than the rest of the country and if it isnt the CA blend pumps in CA arent allowed to pump it. CA requires oxygenated gas to put the oxygen content of the gas to 2% which with the current “cheap”, “safe” oxygenate of ethanol requires 5.7% ethanol(some will argue that we already have E10 to E15 gas, BUT that just means they can put up to 10-15% E they just dont do so yet) Now for the fun part CA make next to zero ethanol but requires @6% in the gas that is sold in CA so we import it by rail or from other countries even with the large import tariffs on ethanol. CA also has a summer and winter blend for gas not all area do but alot of big cities, CA, and New England have these seasonal blends. One of the reasons CA does this is oxygenated gas burns cleaner and put out less pollutants but at the cost of less power and lower mpg. One of CA reasons is that last checked between 2007 and 2008 CA on a world wide basis was the 2nd largest user of gasoline in the world just ahead of China(#3) but behind the other 49 states of the USA(#1) put together. So how much gas is that well CA was using over 20Billion gallons of gas with 6% of that gas being ethanol or 1.2Billion gallon of ethanol nearly every drop of which is imported from out of CA. So it isnt so much a refinery limit that makes CA have the highest cost for gas in the USA but more a limit to the number of refineries that can blend the gas and handle the train loads of ethanol that adds to the cost.
    ps that 1.2Billion gallons of ethanol if it was normal gas is just over what the Netherlands uses for gas but just under what Thailand uses for gas. (for scale)

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